Monday, April 18, 2011

Mud, mud, glorious mud

When the temperature is a sunny 75 degrees farenheit and yet-another sprinkler turns into a fountain when you're standing right over it, poking it to see why it's not working, it's not such a big deal.

That's how I spend the rest of the weekend, trying to fix the irrigation system. Or rather, systems.

There are five banks of six valves, each valve connected to a circuit of sprinklers, and some of which are connected (or supposed to be connected) to automatic timers. Knowing that some of the system is broken, I had a couple of guys come and give me estimates to fix it all. But as the price started at 4,500$ just for the valves and the timers--without any troubleshooting of the pipes and sprinklers themselves--I armed myself with 200$ worth of sprinkler heads, PVC pipes, blue plumbers glue (it melts the PVC together to form a seal) and various tools for cutting, prodding and removing broken bits.

You turn a circuit on, find the sprinklers, stick flags in them so you can find them again, turn the water off, fix the first one, turn the water on again, the water pressure goes up and you see the next one is broken, turn the water off, fix the second one, turn the water on, ad infinitum. One of them required digging up an invading privet bush to find the open hole in the supply pipe which was creating a river in the flower bed.

After a very muddy, mucky weekend, I can proudly say that the majority of circuits now work, at least manually, without loss of water pressure or random fountains. There is still one circuit that is causing a marshland (the turkeys like that), and two or three that I can't turn on or figure out.

I really don't want to irrigate everywhere. This is California. We should use drought-friendly landscaping as much as possible. But neither do I want to kill the mature fruit trees. And before I can start redesigning my landscape, maybe using drip irrigation instead of sprinklers, I have to understand the bones and veins and lungs of the land. So it needs to be fixed, before being sculpted into something else.

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